Building & Maintaining Relationships With Joint Use

Posted by Ashley Little on July 19, 2016

Building & Maintaining Relationships With Joint UseAllowing double utility poles to linger in the field comes with a number of costs. The cost of increased liability from potentially damaged equipment that could fail, causing property damage or injury. The direct monetary cost of fines that can be levied by frustrated cities or the NESC. Costs from dealing with city councils, developers and property owners disgruntled by unsightly double poles disrupting views and clogging sidewalks.

There is also a hidden cost of neglecting to tackle your double utility pole issues: relationship costs.

We all know that in small to medium-sized communities, everyone knows everyone else—and everyone else's business. Even larger cities can quickly become connected little towns with pockets of intense familiarity, especially in the local joint use universe.

Because joint use requires the amicable sharing of resources, it is very much a social endeavor—something that is easily forgotten when you are talking about asset inventory management and objects in the field, rather than human beings with work responsibilities and feelings. Behind those poles and attachments are real people—humans who, once you cross them, might not be so nice the next time you encounter them on the street… or 40 feet in the air at the top of a pole.

To see neglected double poles as a relationship issue, think of it like this: You have a work friend whose office you hang out in regularly. You stop by on your way to the coffee shop and ask if they would like a latte. You swing by mid-afternoon for a conversational pick-me-up. You come by at quitting time and walk with them to their car. What if you kept leaving things behind every time you visited? A book. A notebook. A box of pens. Your gym bag. For a while, your office buddy might not mind, but say they are moving—getting a corner spot. They ask you to remove the items, and you tell them, "Sure, later," but never do. Now your stuff, innocuous and perhaps even useful at first, has become something that's keeping them from shifting their essentials to the next cubicle. They would be understandably frustrated: your things are essentially blocking the door.

Being a neglectful attacher is similar. Not transferring off of a utility pole when asked to do so by a pole owner can create a poor relationship with the owning company. Especially in a small town or community where everyone bumps up against one another regularly in the field.

Fortunately, there are good examples out there of companies using joint use to build good will as well. Take the case of the leaning utility pole in Southwest Atlanta. Damaged by a traffic accident and tilting over a convenience mart's parking lot, the pole was a clear hazard to the public. Property owners tried to get in touch with city officials to no avail. Eventually, a local news outlet's consumer advocate got involved. He called the local power company and cable company, but was told the pole did not belong to them. Finally, a local telco agreed to check out the situation and discovered the pole was old and unmarked. They could have walked away, but fortunately neighborly good sense prevailed. The telecom had nothing attached to the pole, but decided they could not in good conscience leave a dangerous situation unresolved. So, they replaced it, re-attached existing equipment and tipped their helmets to being good stewards of the city's infrastructure.

That, we think, is the up-side of good joint use etiquette—and the epitome of good relationship building using power poles.

In this, the year of the double utility pole, why else might you want to clean up your act—and your community's landscape? Download our top 6 reasons to tackle your double poles today.

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